'The best show you can'

Wasilla resident, magician returns for Soldotna performance

Landon Swank remembers an old saying when he thinks about his career.


That you can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.

However, chances are the 26-year-old Wasilla native and professional magician’s odds are better at the latter than most others attempting the same feats of illusion.

“People are going to figure stuff out,” Swank said. “It is just the nature of the beast, but making sure your magic is up to par and making sure you are putting on the best show you can … is extremely important aspect of any show.”

Swank, a former contestant on America’s Got Talent, will return home to Alaska to perform four shows in four nights and will perform at 8 p.m. tonight at Hooligans, located on the Sterling Highway in Soldotna. The show is non-smoking, tickets are $20 at the door for regular admission, and $50 for a VIP seat.

Swank’s path to a career in magic almost started off on the wrong foot, he said.

When he was 7, his mother took him to see a magician perform in Anchorage and the magician called him to the stage to assist with one of his tricks. Swank, however, became nervous when he heard the laughter of the more than 2,000 people in the audience.

“I thought they were laughing at me, so I ended up walking off stage in the middle of his trick,” Swank said with a laugh. “He couldn’t get me back on so he pulled the rabbit out of his coat and basically put the rabbit he promised me in my lap with a box of chocolates and called for an early intermission.”

On the way out of the show, his mother bought him a magic book. It was fate, he contends.

Swank started taking magic seriously in middle school and then “very seriously” in high school, as he puts it. After moving to Las Vegas and graduating from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, he tried out for the sixth season of America’s Got Talent.

The judges were impressed with his illusions and Swank had six performances on the show — more than any other magician before him — before being eliminated, he said. Swank came in less than 1 percent behind the fourth place act for that week, he said.

“What I was told is that there were 40,000 plus people that auditioned initially and they cut that down and I ended up getting fifth place,” he said. “So I didn’t do too bad.”

Swank said he is pleased with how the show elevated his potential.

“That’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid … to get to that level in my career that people would actually associate my face with magic,” he said.

When it comes to Swank’s approach to magic, he has an all of the above philosophy — card magic, crooked gambling, crowd interaction and others are often incorporated into his routine.

But, large stage illusions are where the lion’s share of his attention goes these days.

“That’s where my focus really is because that is kind of what it takes to get a big showroom down here and that’s what I’ve always wanted, so that’s where I put most of my focus and energy,” he said.

Although some might consider magic to be a gimmick, Swank said his magic crosses traditional boundaries easily, which keeps him from being typecast and allows for unique presentations.

“Everything is important when it comes to magic,” he said. “If you put on a show and you figure out how everything is done, it doesn’t matter how funny you are, they are going to walk away saying that you weren’t a very good magician, but you were funny.”

Swank said residents can expect a different show tonight in Soldotna than what they saw on America’s Got Talent. He plans to bring a little more audience interaction into the mix.

“Obviously I don’t think that Hooligans has quite the stage set up that America’s Got Talent did,” he said with a laugh.

It’s been a few months since Swank has been home and even longer since he was last on the Peninsula, but he has found a large fan base in his home state, he said.

“It’s been amazing the amount of support that’s come out from people that I have never met before — saw me on the show, found out I was from Alaska and wanted to root for me,” he said.